The UK has agreed to a request by the EU to extend the date of its parliament’s ratification of the Brexit trade deal until 30 April.
The trade deal was provisionally approved by the 27 EU ambassadors in December to ensure it came into place on 1 January when the UK left the single market and customs union, removing the prospect of extra friction at the border.
Originally the European Parliament had until 28 February to ratify the trade deal, however MEPs wanted more time to scrutinise the 1,300-page document.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove wrote to European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic today to agree to an extension until April.
Gove will meet Sefcovic tomorrow to discuss issues at the Northern Ireland border.
“As you know provisionally applying the agreement was not the United Kingdom’s preferred outcome given the uncertainty it creates for individuals and businesses and indeed the parties,” he wrote.
“Extending the period of provisional application prolongs that uncertainty.
“Our expectation is that the European Union should be able to satisfy its internal requirements before 30 April 2021.”
The EU requested the extension two weeks ago, writing that it was “to allow the time needed for the completion of the legal-linguistic revision of the agreement in all 24 languages for its scrutiny by the European Parliament and the Council”.
Former chief Brexit negotiator, and newly appointed cabinet minister, Lord David Frost said at the time that it was “disappointing” and “a little surprising”.